Gerald Brennan by candlelight
The Sinfonia Matrix, like all Brennan's music, is built on melodies because for all his audacious concepts and extravagant ambitions, Brennan is at heart a songwriter. He's got a gift for instantly memorable tunes embodying every emotion from highest happiness to deepest melancholy. I've played through dozens of his pieces on the piano, and the tunes have gone around in my head for days afterwards. But while hearing his beguiling tunes in my head is always a pleasure, I'd prefer to hear them in my ears, optimally with a hall full of people to listen with me, because that's what music making is all about. But for reasons he says he doesn't understand himself, Brennan soured on performing. His last public appearance as a composer was in 1986, when he premiered his Illuminations on the I Ching for piano in the Michigan Union.
On Saturday, November 12, Brennan will grant my wish by presenting an evening of improvisations, ensoundings, and love songs, all by candlelight at Kerrytown Concert House. At the beginning of the evening, Brennan, a superb pianist, will improvise on three myths, Narcissus and Echo, the Rape of Proserpine, and Phathon, painting them as pianistic tone poems. The evening will end with Brennan ensounding the Buddha's Amitabha Sutra, translating the text of the Buddha's greatest orations into the language of the Western piano. At the center of the evening Brennan will accompany Wendy Bloom, a charismatic local singer, in a performance of three of his love songs, "Love, Look over Me," "Round and Round," and my personal favorite, "They're Not Going Anywhere Tonight," a moving hymn to mature love.